Hi all! As a PhD student arriving from Australia in 2019, here are some tips I've accumulated over my time here. Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions. – Your international rep, Alex.
The easiest airport is Stansted, due to it being on the same train line as Cambridge. This train also generally has ample space for luggage, and is easily bookable in advance via Trainline. Though occasionally you may have to fly in to other airports (Heathrow etc). If travelling from these to Cambridge by train, try and avoid peak work times if carying a lot of luggage (around 7-9am and 5-7pm) as it can be very cramped.
Mobile service from any network is pretty average in Cambridge, but luckily there is bountiful eduroam (the university Wi-Fi network) so you generally don't need much data. How reliable different carriers are can also depend on where your building is located, so I do not recommend signing yourself up to extended contracts before you have a chance to try them out. One provider (which uses the O2 network) I've had a lot of success with is giffgaff, this link will give you £5 free credit, which has very cheap plans with unlimited calls and text, and more than enough data which you can also use across Europe. You can also use Queens' main site as your postal address so that the SIM card is ready waiting for you in your pidgeon hole as soon as you arrive in Cambridge.
While there may be some benefits to having an account with a physical bank in Cambridge (I haven't found a reason yet?), the easiest thing you could do before you arrive would be to sign up to an online bank such as Monzo and Revolut (which has virtual cards), both of which I've been using realiably since I arrived. If everything checks out, you should get account numbers to which you can transfer money to almost instantly (for this I use Wise due to their amazing rates), and like the SIM card above, if you use Queens' main site as your postal address you can have the card waiting for you in your pidgeon hole in the Queens' porters lodge when you arrive in Cambridge. If you decide to go with one of the big physical banks, you'll need a lot more documentation such as proof of course and address (can get this from Queens' here, get in early, there's a big rush at the start of term!) and to schedule an appointment which could take a while.
This is probably one of the first things you'll want to do once you arrive, and myself and your Bike/Environments rep Alice, have put together a quick FAQ guide on how to get a good deal. Feel free to contact either of us for more information or hints.